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Bell Witch Haunting (2004)

 -  Drama | History | Horror  -  27 March 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.8/10 from 184 users  
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"The Bell Witch Haunting" is a powerful supernatural historic thriller based on terrifying actual events that took place in Robertson County, Tennessee from 1817 to 1821, in which a spirit ... See full summary »



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Title: Bell Witch Haunting (2004)

Bell Witch Haunting (2004) on IMDb 4.8/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Doug Moore ...
Amber Bland ...
Hope Wade ...
Mary Bell
Daniel Cooper ...
Drew Allen Bell
Jason Jones ...
Jesse Bell
Haley Lovell ...
Ester Bell
Asa Wiggins ...
Ric White ...
Frank Fox ...
Frank Miles
Betty Ann Britton ...
Anky (as Bettie Ann Britton)
Tom Dolan ...
Reverend Gunn
John Silvestro ...
Reverend Fort
Dan Webber ...
Thomas Fort
Jason Overdorf ...


"The Bell Witch Haunting" is a powerful supernatural historic thriller based on terrifying actual events that took place in Robertson County, Tennessee from 1817 to 1821, in which a spirit tormented John Bell and his family, leaving him in a terrifying fight against the vengeful ghost to save his children and his own life. The haunting is the only known case where a spirit actually took credit for killing someone. After visiting the Bells home, Andrew Jackson said, "I vow I would rather fight the entire British Army single handed then face this witch again." Written by Ric White

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Some legends never die.



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Release Date:

27 March 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Haunt  »

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Followed by Bell Witch Haunting: Behind the Scenes (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Painful to watch!
23 February 2010 | by (Manchester, England, UK) – See all my reviews

BELL WITCH HAUNTING (aka THE HAUNT) is an American horror movie supposedly based on real events that took place during the period 1817 to 1821.

This is not to be confused with BELL WITCH: THE MOVIE, a movie starring Betsy Palmer based on the same events. However, I can say that I wish I had seen this other movie instead of the one I saw! I enjoyed Betsy Palmer's chilling performance in Friday THE 13TH. As such, I believe that even on a bad day, she'd pull off a better performance than anyone involved in the travesty known as THE HAUNT.

With regard to my heading, this movie is not painful to watch because the content is disturbing. It is painful to watch because it is just downright boring.

Reading the positive reviews for this movie, I could only identify three possibilities. The first possibility - these authors were involved in the production in some way. The second possibility - the authors whilst not directly involved were paid to write positive reviews after production was completed. The final possibility - none of these authors has seen a sufficient number of horror movies and therefore is inexperienced with the concepts that successful attempts utilise.

The setting for the plot is Robertson County, Tennessee. James Johnston receives a visit from two journalists eager to hear the story of the Bell Witch. The story is told as a series of flashbacks. A series of supernatural events begin happening at the home of John Bell and his family. It soon transpires that a vengeful spirit is behind it all.

On the surface the plot appears to be a standard poltergeist affair, albeit one based on real events.

Where execution of the brilliant concept is concerned however, just about everything that could go wrong does go wrong. And then some!

First, the acting. The acting is almost uniformly terrible right across the board. This factor does the most damage to the production, undermining any possible credibility of belief or interest on the part of the viewer. The voice of the vengeful spirit sounds more like a teenage girl experiencing teenage angst rather than a powerful demonic force expressing malevolent intent. I almost laughed when I heard some of her lines. Unfortunately, this voice began to become very annoying very quickly! I may not have been alive in the 1800s, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that any young woman alive at that time would speak in the way that this "ghost" does!

Second, the direction. The direction is haphazard and very uneven. Some scenes show promise but potential is squandered by the clearly inexperienced director. Nothing is done with the camera, with sound or with lighting to add intensity to the scenes intended to be scary. The atmosphere is equally flat. A vengeful spirit is supposedly behind supernatural occurrences. Yet the effects are so incredibly inept that no one who has seen a proper horror movie would buy into them. I'll give one example. In one scene, the spirit attacks someone. See the scene for yourself. It's almost funny - almost.

Third, the script. Whilst it may be the case that the events shown are faithful to accounts of real occurrences, it cannot be denied that most scenes are incredibly flat and boring. Scenes as short as two minutes feel much longer thanks to the poor dialogue - dialogue that fails to add depth to the characters or story. This movie is far too reliant on conversations to advance the story. Whilst this style was also the case with British movies from the British horror heyday of the 1960s and 1970s, it cannot be denied that the dialogue exchanges were always interesting to watch in these more professional earlier works. Peter Cushing for example could read a telephone directory and still hold attention of the viewers. The same cannot be said of the actors in THE HAUNT.

Finally, the humour. The ill-guided attempts at humour in this movie are excruciating. An obese boy is the butt of many jokes. One particularly awful scene sees the said boy going to the outside toilet. This scene should never have been included - but it is and complete with sound effects in case you fail to understand what he is doing!

The only positive points about the movie are the location and the costumes. The decision to shoot the picture near the original location helped add some authenticity. The costumes were also well chosen.

Overall, THE HAUNT is an appalling movie. It is not even in the "so bad it's good" league. It is instead just boring. I advise everyone to save their money and avoid this movie like the plague. Don't even bother seeing it for free!

I have never seen the other movie about the Bell Witch. But it really couldn't be any worse than THE HAUNT. Could it? I'll give this other movie a chance if I can track it down.

In the meantime, I would advise everyone on here to check out some proper horror movies about ghosts and haunting. THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, THE CHANGELING, RINGU, THE GRUDGE (Japanese original) and ONE MISSED CALL (Japanese original) are good places to start.

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